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Vodafone share price: Group offloads tower business in India

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Idea Cellular, Vodafone to sell tower businesses to ATC Telecom for ...

American Tower Corp has agreed to buy about 20,000 mobile phone masts for 78.5 billion rupees ($1.2 billion) from Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, who are seeking to merge.

During this low demand period, the sequential quarterly voice minutes grew by 1.7% to 255 billion minutes and mobile data volume (2G+3G+4G) witnessed strong sequential growth of 73.5%.

The sale of tower businesses by the mobile operators comes after cut-throat pricing unleashed by new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm, backed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, roiled the industry. Reliance Communications, struggling under a $7 billion in debt, has also revived efforts to sell a stake in its tower unit Reliance Infratel, after a prospective deal with Brookfield Asset Management fell apart last month.

It merged its loss-making Indian mobile business with Idea, India's third-largest wireless operator, at the start of the year. It will have nearly 400 million customers with 35% customer and 41% revenue market share.

In a joint statement, the two companies said Idea will sell its entire holding in Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services Ltd (ICISL) while Vodafone will divest its business undertaking to ATC Infra.

In the event that the completion of the sale of the standalone telecom tower businesses precedes the completion of the proposed Idea-Vodafone, Vodafone India will receive $592 million, while Idea will get $615 million. The merger is expected to be completed in 2018.

American Tower's deal is expected to close in the first half of next year, and generate about $320M in property revenue and $120M in gross profits for the first full year. Accordingly, private equity funds KKR and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) had emerged as the top contenders.

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